5 Crazy Desi Daarus (2 Are Illegal!)

Marv D'Souza , 11 Jun 2014
Daaru Desi in Cocktail
Daaru Desi in Cocktail

It’s no secret that we are a country of diverse cultures, traditions and rich hidden treasures. But let’s leave aside the truck loads of gorgeous fabrics, the melting pot of delicious cuisines, and our treasure trove of natural wonders… and let’s talk about our bounty of desi daaru (alcohol)!

Yup, we’re a thirsty nation, and here are 5 local daarus that you might not know about!


Hadia is a rice based drink from Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.  Traditionally, in Orissa, the tribals drink this under the shade of a tree, on a hot summer’s day. It isn’t as high in strength as other Indian country liquors but it still does the job.

Handia or Hadia (Pic: Wikipedia)

The process of making Hadia involves a combination of 20 to 25 local herbs called ranu (which is in tablet form) that acts as a fermentor. This is then mixed with boiled rice and left to ferment. The drink lasts for a week and is served cool.

Hadia is a desi alcoholic drink from parts of Central India like Orissa, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Hadia is a desi alcoholic drink from parts of Central India like Orissa, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.


Mahua is an alcoholic summer drink enjoyed by a few tribes in Central India. The Mahua tree is a semi-evergreen tree that gives flowers from the month of April to June, which is when the tribes pick them out to make this highly potent and pungent drink.

Mahua flowers that are juice to make the drink. (Pic: Wikipedia)
Mahua flowers that are juice to make the drink. (Pic: Wikipedia)

Though Mahua as a drink is popular with the local tribes and can be bought in almost all the villages in Central India, it is illegal in places like Jharkhand (but you can still buy it in bottles or cups made of leaves). Obviously, it reminded me of the song, O Re Kanchi in Ashoka where, Kareena mentions the word, Mahua.

Kareena in 'O Re Kanchi" saying Mahua Mahua!
Kareena in O Re Kanchi saying Mahua Mahua!


Fenny or feni (cashew or coconut) is a country liquor officially available only in the state of Goa. Cashew and coconut fenny have their own preparation process. While cashew fenny is a triple distilled spirit, the coconut one is a double. The juice from the cashew and sap collected from the coconut is used to prepare this spirit.

Local and fancy fenny from Goa
Local and fancy fenny from Goa.

How do you drink it? You may consume it neat or mix it with soda. Mixers like Limca, Sprite or 7-Up work deliciously well with fenny. My granddad loved his glass of cold fenni (anther way to say it!) with a squeeze of lime and salt.

Speaking of fenny, remember this song?



Toddy or Arrack is another well know drink from South India. It is a type of palm wine and is made by the sap extracted and collected by a tapper. The initially white liquid tends to be very sweet and non-alcoholic before it is fermented.

Toddy served in a glass
Toddy served in a glass (Pic: Wikipedia)

The sap begins fermenting immediately after collection, due to natural yeasts, and the taste changes. After two hours of fermentation, you have an aromatic wine of up to 4% alcohol that is mildly intoxicating and sweet. This fermentation process is allowed to continue and it then yields a stronger, more sour and acidic taste, which some people love!

Toddy time!
Toddy time!


Gudamaba is a traditional drink that comes from Hyderabad and is made from sugar cane. In due course, it was also produced from methane and other chemicals after which the government banned it.

Gudamaba is an alcoholic drink made from sugarcane.
Gudamaba is an alcoholic drink made from sugarcane.

However, it is reported that locals in Hyderabad buy paunches of gudamaba and consume it secretly. In fact, in 2004, there was a report stating that bootleggers tried making a 200 year old temple a secret ground to sell gudamaba.

Drinking Gudamaba in Hyderabad is still frowned upon
Drinking gudamaba in Hyderabad is still frowned upon

Have you tried any of these drinks? Or do you know of any more drinks that should be on this list? Tell us in the comments below!

P.S. You HAVE to try our Andaaz Apna Apna Bollywood Drinking Game!

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